Note: With this I hope to inspire! Writing only from my own experience.
Anxiety is an emotion characterized by an unpleasant state of inner turmoil. Anxiety is a feeling of fear, uneasiness, and worry, usually generalized and unfocused. It is often accompanied by muscular tension, restlessness, fatigue and problems in concentration.
Please take this with you. Anxiety exists within all people throughout life. It is an emotion that can arise within us for different reasons. Sometimes the reason is obvious and sometimes not. Anxiety is not dangerous or damaging. It is, as much as any other emotion, a part of you.
Years ago I suffered from heavy anxiety and anxiety attacks. It started small and then escalated during years. At its worst, I had about six panic attacks a day and refused to leave my home in fear of my own anxiety. I excluded myself from just about everything, as many of us do when we suffer, and hoped that staying away would somehow magically save me. Fortunately, there are not many things in life that magically go away if you do not meet them head on.
My anxiety came from me
When I first started to have small moments of anxiety (just before an exam in school, dinner with friends, performance, job interview) I had no idea what was happening. I was sure I was either going insane or becoming physical ill.
In retrospect, I now understand.
Throughout my life, I have been convinced that my thoughts were the absolute truth. For a moment imagine having a voice inside of you that tells you things on a daily basis. Imagine those things not being of a positive nature. It can be anything really but to give you an example, in my case, a voice that kept reminding me that no matter what, I would never be of any worth. Finally imagine believing this as your absolute truth every day in everything you do, think and say.
This is what got me in trouble.
Mindfulness as a tool for Anxiety
I would recommend taking use of a teacher in Mindfulness, Meditation and/or Yoga to get started.
“Mindfulness practice means that we commit fully in each moment to be present; inviting ourselves to interface with this moment in full awareness, with the intention to embody as best we can an orientation of calmness, mindfulness, and equanimity right here and right now” — Jon Kabat-Zinn
There is no easy way or quick fix. The practice demands effort and discipline because of the simple fact that the resistance working against you are that deep rooted within you.
Below I share some of the things I had to start with on my ongoing journey. I had the help of a teacher within Yoga, Mindfulness and Meditation.
- First and foremost, Breath. I can assure that without being able to breath not much else matters. It is important to become aware of the fact that you actually have a breath. I started to stop myself for a few seconds or minutes everyday to notice my breath. Not to change it but to be fully aware of it.
- Grounding through the breath. After understanding I had a breath, I started to sit with my breathing about a minute a day.
- Write a daily journal. I got the very good advice to write about my moments of anxiety. This helped me become aware of patterns in thoughts and action. If you are not aware of them you cannot change them.
- Reflect. Instead of searching for a solution to your anxiety, or any other emotion for that matter. Try to get perspective. It is important to reflect on how easily we attach ourselves to our emotions, illness, thoughts or even the things we own or do on a daily basis. Think, when all that goes away, who I am really? For a long time I identified myself with my anxiety, which with insight, probably led me to more anxiety.
- Acceptance. The idea is not to make the anxiety go away, because it won´t. It is a part of you and once I understood that my anxiety was nothing bad, dangerous or something to be ashamed of it became easier.
“Note that this journey is uniquely yours, no one else’s. So the path has to be your own. You cannot imitate somebody else’s journey and still be true to yourself. Are you prepared to honor your uniqueness in this way?” — Jon Kabat-Zinn
I wish you all the best!